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Landrieu said there is a need for a “robust” supplemental spending bill that would provide more funding than the additional $5.4 billion that Congress can appropriate without breaching the $11.8 disaster funding cap in the August 2011 debt limit law. “I don’t have any idea what the number will be,” she said. “The facts on the ground will dictate that.”
Congress included $6.4 billion for disaster relief in the six-month stopgap funding measure that keeps the government running through March 27. With an $11.8 billion cap on disaster funds, Congress could provide another $5.4 billion either through a supplementary spending bill or as part of a catch-all omnibus spending measure. If more money is necessary, as many expect to be the case, the debt limit law allows Congress to appropriate additional funds under an emergency designation.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said it could be that storm aid is folded into legislation that would avert the fiscal cliff and serve as a “bridge” to agreement on a comprehensive deficit reduction package next year.
“We’re starting to run out of time” to pass a standalone disaster relief bill, he said.
Geof Koss and Ben Weyl contributed to this story.